LOS ANGELES - the land of milk and honey. The city of opportunity, great weather, the entertainment industry, and... unfriendly people? Say what you will about all of the wonderfully personable people you know in Los Angeles, it is likely that for every one of them there are two Angelenos that are simply too busy to bother with friendliness. In Travel and Leisure Magazine’s “America’s Favorite Cities Survey” of 2010, L.A. was ranked the 35th city on the friendliness scale. That doesn’t seem so bad, right? The thing is, there were 35 cities in the article.
A close friend of mine, Heather, from Indianapolis, Indiana, visited here last week. While I was in class she was tanning on my roof, and called out a friendly “Hello!” to a neighbor walking his dog. Instead of the civil acknowledgement she expected in return, he said “Where are you from, young lady? There is no way you are from Los Angeles.” Initially she was confused at his question, but he went on to explain that no one in Los Angeles waves hello to people they don’t know.
They struck up a friendly conversation and it came up that she was looking for work in Los Angeles for the summer. The man was so refreshed by her amiability that he offered her an interview at the talent agency his daughter owns, and called his daughter on the spot to make sure she would make an opening for Heather while she was still in town. She interviewed the next day and is currently waiting to hear back from the company.
In this case, and I would say in most, it pays to be friendly. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with strangers on a plane or on the bus, and if not for the sake of making connections people should be friendly to improve their quality of life. Aristotle’s definition of happiness includes being friendly as “a mean between the excess of being ingratiating and the deficiency of being surly.”
Los Angeles should take a lesson from the Ancient Greeks, or even from the midwest, when it comes to this important feature.
-- Jordan Younger
image via Flickr